Taking the Time to Unplug

Five summers ago, I began thinking about unplugging. I knew that I was spending too much time on the computer, texting, or with the television on, and too little time with the people that I love. Let me clarify; By “too little time," I mean actual time spent paying attention to, spending quality time with, and really listening to the people I care about. Having someone in the same room as you while you are busy doing something else doesn’t qualify as quality time! So, when Hurricane Irene came into town, taking our power with her as she slowly swept past our house, I was actually relieved. I didn’t have to plan the "when's" and "how’s" of unplugging my family. I could just do it. Foregoing the technology I have come to rely on, was actually pretty easy! Probably more so than if I had to physically unplug everything on my own. It was an easier way to start, since I really had no choice! There was no temptation since these devices, sans the cell phone, didn’t work anyway! Not only did the kids not miss seeing their daily Sesame Street episode, they didn’t even ask for the T.V. to be turned on. It was harder for me, having become addicted to a certain reality television show (that had no actual plot). As far as the computer, I’m sure my kids loved having me fully available to play, without having to literally drag my chair away from the computer, as my son often does! Not being much of a phone person, turning off the cell phone wasn’t an issue for me, and the kids enjoyed the extra attention from their daddy, as well! Instead of being tuned into technology, we read more books, played games, and talked and laughed a lot more! And while this newly found disconnect from technology was creating a bonding experience for my family, I was also aware that I was doing something healthy for their physical bodies. For instance, there have been many different studies showing possible links between cell phones and cancer. Many people may just brush these possibilities off by touting that if they were that bad, they’d be banned. Or perhaps we like to think that there is no definitive link published saying they do indeed make people sick. But I like to err on the side of caution when it comes to the people I love, and especially with my kids. Studies show that the electromagnetic radiation coming from the cell phones effect the brain. One particular study that is being done by a Long Islander, has shown that teenagers, among the rest of the population, are actually addicted to their cell phones. When having them taken away even for a couple of hours, they show signs of withdrawal.

Then there’s the T.V.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under age 2 have no screen time, and that kids older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming. The recommendation comes due to the fact that the overstimulation caused by watching an abundance of television is linked to sleep problems, physical problems (such as obesity), mental problems (such as ADD-type symptoms where children have trouble focusing on everyday tasks) and behavioral problems. As far as the computer is concerned, there is double jeopardy; there is exposure to the electromagnetic radiation and the potential for the same problems associated with over-watching television! Overall, taking a break from technology was quite the learning experience for my family. We realized that when we are unplugged, everyone gets more time to listen, more time to notice one another, and more time to be creative and use their imaginations! This strengthens both the brain and the bond we have with those around us. Not only were we all physically present with each other, we were also mentally and emotionally present for each other! I encourage other moms and families to give it a try...unplug, and see the benefits!

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